I have to laugh when I read real estate advice from folks who have never had a real estate client in their lives, never been responsible for the sale of a home and have never been a homeowner trying to sell one. Novices have a tendency to throw out advice and then either ignore or gloss over the details. Open house and home showing advice is some of the most common I encounter on the Internet.

Even worse, however, is when this invaluable advice is tossed out on a real estate agent’s website. Here is one of my all-time favorites:

"get the pets to stay elsewhere until your home sells"

Now, darn it, why didn’t we think of that? Just board your pets for the entire time your home is on the market! Understand that pet boarding facilities charge on a per-day basis, on a sliding scale dependent on the size of the dog, and the national average price of boarding a dog is $25 a night, according to Alina Tugend of the New York Times. Of course, if you own a large breed, your cost will rise significantly. But, let’s use the average to determine how much your dog’s vacay will set you back.

On a year-to-date basis, the average Madison home for sale spends 35 days on the market. Therefore, by the time the home goes under contract, you will owe the boarding facility $875, if you’re boarding an average-size dog. More than one dog? Dig deep, my friend.

Then, there is this advice from a California real estate agent:

Let a friend or relative care for Fluffy and Spike.

Board them at a kennel.

Send them on vacation.

Take them to work with you for the day.

Move out and take your pets with you.

First, you gotta love the use of the word “Let” in the first tip. Like your friends and relatives have been clamoring, for ages, to have your dog spend a month or two in their home. Then, there is the ever-popular tip about boarding.

But number three is the best: “Send them on vacation.”

What exactly does she mean by this? It can’t be that she is suggesting a boarding kennel because she already mentioned that. So, are we to assume that you pack bags for Fido, drive him to the airport and send him off to Honolulu for a month or two? How on earth does that work? Naturally, there was no further explanation offered.

Then, the final two suggestions – not exactly realistic, are they?

Solutions that work

Most of the advice on the Internet cautions home sellers that “many” buyers won’t buy a home that has pets living in it, so you should be dishonest and remove every trace of your pets. We haven’t necessarily found this to be the case, especially in the current market.

Let’s face it, great homes for sale are few and far between and, if you’re about to sell one, you are in the driver’s seat. For every potential buyer who poo poos your home because a dog lives there, you’ll find two or three others who want the home so badly they’ll overlook a little dog dander.

So, yes, it’s wise to clean up dog messes and repair dog damage before the home goes on the market. But, removing pet dishes? Hiding collars and leashes? “Hiding the evidence” as a writer on the National Association of REALTORS website suggests? No. We never recommend that our listing clients hide any material facts about the home.

This market also allows sellers to be a bit more restrictive on when they’ll show the home. In a slow market, it’s never a good idea to put restrictions on home showings. In this market, however, you can get away with it, as long as they aren’t overly restrictive.

Consider restricting showings to early evenings (while it’s still light out) or weekends, so that you can take the dog to the park or on a walk during the showings. 

Or, round up a neighbor or friend who is retired or works from home, or hire a dog walker, willing to retrieve your dog on short notice and take it to the park or on a walk. Instructions in the listing description would require that buyers’ agents give you at least an hour or two hours’ notice before showing up with their clients.

We’ve come up with a list of additional solutions to the problem of what to do with your dog during the time your home is on the market. These are in no particular order, and some of these may take advance planning.

  •          Doggie daycare – this is the ideal solution for dogs who love to socialize with other dogs. Keep in mind, however, that this can get pricey. Some of the highest-rated Madison dog daycares              listed on Yelp include Dogtopia of Madison West, Dog Haus University, The Dog Den and Camp K9 Pet Care Center.
  •          Groomer – Probably best suited for Open House days. Drop the pooch in the morning and pick it up after work. This is an obvious win-win.
  •          Veterinarian – This suggestion, too, is better suited to a one-off. Perhaps use it on a day with several showings scheduled or on Open House day. Again, drop the dog off on the way to work            to get a checkup and vaccinations, and pick it up on the way home.
  •          Professional dog walker – It may take some advance planning to find a dog walker who can show up to your home and take the pooch for a walk on an hour or two hours’ notice. Some of the            highest ranked on Yelp include Paws and Claws Dog Walking & Pet Sitting and Doggy by Nature.

If none of these work for you, consider crating the dog during showings. If yours is a Kong fanatic, stuff it with something irresistible to keep it distracted and busy for most of the day and cover the crate with a blanket to block his or her view of the temporary house guests.

Or, consider dog-proofing the garage (putting chemicals out of reach, storing sharp gardening tools up high, etc.) and leave the dog in the garage for the day. Of course, weather is a consideration here – you won’t want to do this on days we’re expecting extremely cold or warm temperatures.

If you decide to keep the dog at home during showings, either in a large crate or in the garage or backyard, you’ll need to check that your homeowners insurance covers dog bites and scratches. Even the most mild-mannered dog can freak out over strangers or get overly excited if a child is in attendance. It’s better to be safe, knowing you have coverage, than to assume your dog can’t hurt anyone and end up with huge medical bills or a lawsuit.

We’ll also leave notes around the home, informing buyers and their agents that there is a dog in the home, where it is and instructing them to use caution so the dog doesn’t get out of the house.



Posted by Jolenta Averill on
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